Mainstream cinema is grabbing digital space as well, says indie filmmaker Q
In 2016 Qaushiq Mukherjee, who goes by the name Q, became India’s first filmmaker to bag a Netflix original release for his English-language film Brahman Naman.kolkata Updated: Oct 21, 2017 14:34 IST
‘Maverick’, ‘dangerous’, ‘enfant terrible’ are some of the adjectives attributed to independent filmmaker Qaushiq Mukherjee, who goes by the name Q. Last year, he became India’s first filmmaker to bag a Netflix Original release, for a seven-figure deal, for his English-language film Brahman Naman. The Bengali filmmaker spoke to HT about his next projects and the challenges ahead for indie filmmakers.
Q. Your social media post looking for a female actor has given rise to speculations that you have started casting for the Hindi version of Ludo (Q co-directed the Bengali film with Nikon). You had been working on its Hindi script. Tell us about the film.
A. I cannot disclose anything about this new project, not even which film it is. We are never into pre-film promotions. All I can tell you is that it’s going to be in Hindi and English. It took nearly two years to write the script, which is complete now. Shooting, however, is yet to begin. We expect to complete it by the end of this year and early next year. So, it is expected to release next year.
Q. What happened with the documentary on writer Nabarun Bhattacharya? There is significant interest among his readers since the release of the trailer.
A. This has so far been screened at festivals in Rome and Dharmashala, apart from few private screenings. We know we would not get as good distribution as for Gandu and Tasher Desh but we are trying to ensure a modest distribution. We hope to release the film before the Kolkata International Book Fair next year.
Q. The Netflix Originals release for Brahman Naman created enthusiasm among independent filmmakers in India. Tell us about the distribution scene in the digital world.
A. It’s getting critical. Digital marketing opened up new avenues for indie film makers, who, otherwise get no chance of release in theatres in India. However, the scene is changing. The mainstream, realising the potential of the digital space, has invested heavily in it and has started grabbing that space as well. Salman Khan movies and reality shows are already all over the digital space. It has just become the TV. Indie filmmakers face greater threat of their work getting lost in a crowd.
Q. What are the prospects of international distribution?
A. Not very enthusiastic. The European film market has crashed. The one important thing about the European market is that these countries treat art as art and does not necessarily invest depending on prospects of financial returns. But the situation has been bad of late, including in the UK. France and Germany seem to be the only viable options for international distribution right now.
Q. How do you think indie makers in India should respond to the present censorship and distribution scenario in India?
A. The censor policy of the existing government is going to prompt more indie makers to look for alternative distribution channels. The present regime seems to allow no space to ideas alternative to or contesting their narrative. Anything that does not fit in the schemes of the regime in New Delhi will get no space. But there is no one-dimensional way to fight it. Indie filmmakers will need to continuously evolve new strategies, as the mainstream will continue to grab whatever space the indie makers curve out for themselves. It’s a relentless struggle.